Opinion Your Views — 10 April 2014
Updating city codes? Here are a few more to toss out

By Jol Silversmith, Alexandria
(File Photo) 

To the editor:

In response to City Councilor Justin Wilson’s recent call for Alexandria to remove certain anachronistic laws from the books, may I suggest that the city revise or repeal the following provisions:

Section 5-7-47 of the city code requires cats to be licensed. Meanwhile, neighboring jurisdictions do not require the licensing of cats.

Section 6-2-2 lets homeowners mow the grass on planting strips neighboring the sidewalk in front of their homes, but bars planting or removing vegetation. This means that homeowners, while allowed to trim the grass, are at the same time prohibited from planting new grass or removing weeds. This simply does not make sense.

Section 9-2-5 and related codes attempt to regulate the operation of aircraft in the city’s skies. But it is well established that aviation regulation is exclusively a federal responsibility. These sections of the code are so old and obsolete that they cross-reference a Federal Aviation Agency. The FAA was renamed the Federal Aviation Administration in 1967.

Section 9-7-7 provides that if a gas station sells gasoline by the liter instead of the gallon, it must post a “conversion table or equation adopted by the consumer affairs commission.” Efforts to adopt the metric system here faded away decades ago. Even if a gas station were interested in selling gasoline by the liter, the consumer affairs commission no longer exists.

Section 13-1-16 prohibits the abandonment of refrigerators with doors attached. Although the possibility of children becoming trapped in a discarded refrigerator was once a valid safety concern, refrigerator manufacturers have been required to use magnetic (instead of mechanical) latches since 1958, thus eliminating that risk. This ordinance has long outlived its purpose.

These examples likely are just the tip of the iceberg. The city council would be well-advised to initiate a comprehensive review of its ordinances, to identify requirements that serve no purpose and should be abolished.

 

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